Hello and welcome to my blog. It is a blog about an Air Force Physician that was reluctantly deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan for 6 months.

I have to admit, I did not exactly volunteer for the deployment, and I was a little anxious about how it would all turn out. I ended up making the best of it, and surprisingly, I actually had a pleasant, life changing, experience.

I decided to keep the blog up and running because I kept on hearing, "Why is it that you only hear the bad news coming from Iraq and Afghanistan." I figured that I was helping spread a positive message about what we are doing over. Even more important, I wanted to continue to spread the word about the plight of the Afghan people, 99.9% of which are the most incredibly friendly people that you will ever meet. The title picture is a great example of that. I have never encountered such genuinely warm and friendly people. It was so strange to see so many people with so little material objects, yet at the same time, filled with so much of the joy that comes with close family ties, abundant friends, and a close knit community. We could definetly learn a lot from them.

You may notice, as you read the blog in its entirety, my arc. I shift from focusing on myself and my personal comforts, to shifting my focus on the Afghan cause. It is very easy to get distracted by the hustle of daily life and the comforts that the U.S. provides. It is really a challenge to awake from that coma and to start to care and think about the welfare of other people unrelated to you. I think it really took me about 4 or 5 months before I really opened my eyes and became personally affected by what I was experiencing. I hope I was able to recreate it.

I have tried to keep the blog squeaky clean so as to not offend anyone (or get me in trouble-I am still in the military). Even though I am a political junky with very strong personal opinions I have been steadfast in keeping this site free of any politics. I was called to do a job and I tried to do it to the best of my ability regardless of my political stance.

I recreated the blog to read more like a book, or should I say blook (get used to the corniness it only gets worse from here) just to make it an easier read. I have removed some names and pictures just to keep it more anonymous. I hope that it helps in making it less about me and more about the cause.

Lastly, in the spirit of the blog, I decided to include the Chipin Widget that I used to raise money for Nazia. If I get any additional money I will send the funds to The Women of Hope Project and someone over in Kabul will discretely give it to her (unless I hear otherwise). You can also contribute directly to the Women of Hope Project website. They are a wonderful cause. If you enjoy this blog then feel free to contribute. I am sure that once you read her story you will be very moved.

So kick back. Get ready to hopefully laugh and definitely cry.
If you like what you read then post a comment. I will be continuously editing this site in an attempt to improve it. Who knows maybe one day it will become a book!

Enjoy. Thanks for reading.


Today Show Clip

Chipin Widget

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Day At The Museum

"Cabbage: A familiar kitchen-garden vegetable about as large and wise as a man's head."

-Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary US author & satirist (1842 - 1914)

Today we actually had a very full day. In the morning we visited our new clinic and had a long but productive meeting with key staff. We asked a ton of basic logistical questions and got some very interesting answers. For instance, when we asked about how they did their medical records they said that that used to keep a "family book." The book served two purposes, one was to show who was eligible for care at the clinic through a photo that is displayed on the cover and the other was to document their care. They would bring the book in with them whenever they were seen for an appointment. The other interesting thing we learned is the way they pay out disability (remember this is primarily a police clinic). In the military when someone performs 20 years of active duty service the VA reviews their medical record and determines the percentage of disability that the service member should receive. The way the ANP physicians do it is they basically pay them cash on the spot when the injury occurs. They have a really big book that lists all of the different disabilities and how much the patient should be compensated.

We brought along an Army dentist with us and he spent some time with his Afghan counterpart. I also helped unload some of the new equipment like exercise bikes and exam tables.

After the clinic visit we hooked back up with the Wolf Pack (our Army friends who we hitch a ride with whenever we go out because they have really big guns on their turrets). They invited us to another one of their going away lunches. It took place a restaurant called "The Turkish House." It is located within the compound of the Ministry of Defense (MOD). The MOD is the Afghan equivalent of the Pentagon. The Wolf Pack mentors the senior leadership of the Afghan National Army (ANA) over there.

We had an incredible lunch. The Turkish House was really nice. There was a well known Afghan drummer and guitarist playing music. We sat around a huge table and ate kabobs, flat bread, rice, soup and eggplant. It was delicious. The occasion we were celebrating was the end of a deployment for one of the Army guys. He is a National Guard member who works as a music teacher in his civilian job. He was deployed to Kabul to help "mentor" the MOD's music band. I tell you what, there used to be a time when certain jobs were unofficially nondeployable but when they start deploying music teachers to war zones then all bets are officially off.

The person having the going away was also a liaison for the interpreters. I wanted to mention an interesting interpreter observation. A good number of the interpreters out here are actually doctors. The reason they are doctors is because doctors earn only $50.00 per month seeing patients verses $700.00 as interpreters. You really cannot blame them for what they do. I would probably be doing the same thing. The sad thing is that just about every one of them that you talk to is also trying to get a visa to go to the U.S.. The reason why it is sad is because these people are the brains of Afghanistan and we need them to stay and help rebuild their country.

I had a very poignant conversation with our interpreter when I was driving our HUMVEE back home from the clinic. We all communicate within the HUMVEE through the use of headsets that make you feel like you are in a cockpit of an airplane. During our long drive home I asked our interpreter what it was like when the Taliban took over their country and I got wonderful 20 minute first hand account of those terrible 2 years as we drove through the heart of Kabul. I felt like he was a narrator guiding me through a real life museum. Just imagine a mob of crazy fanatical people taking over your community and no one there to help out. People were scared to drive around town because the Taliban would take their cars away. They would cut off people's hands and hang them from light posts all for minor infractions. Women could not work, could not go to school, could not be in public without a man. I could not imagine what it was like. I asked him a question of whether life had improved since the Americans arrived (knowing the obvious answer, but I was curious as to how he would respond). He answered, almost yelling, a resounding, "Yes! It is much better!!" That simple affirmation was all I needed to reassure me that this crazy 6 month adventure was worthwhile. I know that I am participating in a worthy cause and I am proud to be a part of it. We are making important and lasting impacts on these people's lives and it is definitely worth my sacrifice.

Thanks for reading.


Anonymous said...

Since it's getting close to 'cabbage night', your cabbage quote was very apt. Have been reading your blog from the beginning. Your insights have been delightful to read. Please know that there are many of us here at home that depend on you all to tell us the reality of the 'news'. Thank You for that and so much more.
Please take care, and stay safe..
Ky Woman

Haole Wahine said...

"Really glad to see ya,
Wouldn't want to be ya ! "
Hey Guys !

Thanks to Doug at A*W*A*C for sending us over here.

Don't wait on my account, I'll catch up on your "6 months", so far. (long timers, huh)

Take care, and keep blogging,

Gratitude and prayers